Sunday, February 15, 2009

Watershed concerns frame the debate in Victoria

While the BC Legislature has been recalled to deal with the economic storm that has appeared on the horizon, the MLA for the North Coast Gary Coons isn't going to let some of the other key issues slide under the radar during this sudden session.
Last week Coons rose in the Legislature to renew his call for a better stewardship of the environment by the Campbell Liberals, in particular their plans for the management of the North coast watershed, an area that the MLA suggests that the Liberals have no comprehensive plan in place to take care of the fragile ecosystem.

His talking points from the Legislature debate were outlined in an article in Friday's Daily News.

MLA says watershed must be properly managed
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, February 13, 2009
Page one

The health and sustainability of British Columbia's watersheds and coastal waters have been on the mind of North Coast MLA Gary Coons for some time, but he still feels the issue is being ignored by those in power.

This week, Coons rose in the legislature to express his concerns about the future of the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area, or PNCIMA.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in December of 2008 by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and coastal First Nations, but, to date, the provincial government has not become involved.

"The success of this marine plan depends on the involvement of all levels of government," he said.

"It's time for the Campbell government to stop being spectators and start working with the federal government and local stakeholders to ensure that our ocean resources continue to benefit communities for years to come."

The MOU outlines a "PNCIMA Model", including a proposed method of governing and support for PNCIMA initiatives within the area.

It also calls for the establishment of a steering committee and secretariat to guide and support future planning efforts and the involvement of all those with a vested interest in PNCIMA.
Coons said public support for such a collaborative management plan is greater than ever.

He pointed to a recent poll of British Columbians that revealed that nine out of 10 people in the province are not only concerned about the state of the ocean, but that said they also believe B.C. can have both a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

"What happens on our shorelines and in our watersheds has a vast effect on the health of our ocean resources," said Coons.

"Gordon Campbell is failing coastal communities by refusing to come to the table and work with local stakeholders and the federal government to build a comprehensive marine plan for the north coast."

DFO is currently planning a PNCIMA stakeholder meeting in Vancouver for March 26-27, and anyone interested in attending is encouraged to email

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